Republican Peter Meijer, who supported Trump’s impeachment, is entering the race for U.S. Senate in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Peter Meijer, a Republican who served one term in Congress before being ousted by voters following a vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump, announced Monday that he is running for an open seat in the will run for US Senate in Michigan.

Meijer joins a field of more than a dozen candidates vying for a seat that Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow has held for more than two decades. Stabenow shocked many in the state in January announces her resignationcreating a completely open race in the battleground state.

“My wife and I have prayed hard about this race and how we can best serve our state and our nation. “We have considered every aspect of the campaign and are confident that we have the best chance of taking back this seat for Republicans and fighting hard for a conservative future,” Meijer said a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“These are dark and uncertain times, but we have come through worse. The challenges are great, but so is our country. If we want to see another great American century, we need leaders who are not afraid to be bold, who will get the job done, and who cannot be bought.”

Meijer is the heir to a Midwestern food empire. His name recognition and fundraising ability immediately make him a leading candidate in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country. He joins former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers and former Detroit Police Chief James Craig in the Republican field, while the Democratic field was led by U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin and includes actors Hill Harper.

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Slotkin announced her intentions in February, but the Republican field had remained relatively empty until Rogers announced a campaign in September and Craig in October. Slotkin had nearly $4 million more in the bank than any other Senate candidate as of September, according to campaign finance figures released earlier this month.

Meijer, a Grand Rapids native, is a former Army Reserve officer who served in Iraq. At the time, he was considered part of the next generation of Republican leaders elected to the US House of Representatives in 2020 at just 32 years old. But an impeachment vote Just two weeks into his first term, Trump made Meijer the immediate target of Trump loyalists.

Questions still remain about whether a moderate candidate who voted to impeach Trump can survive a Republican primary. Trump won Michigan in 2016, and his endorsed candidates overwhelmingly won the primary before losing by wide margins in the general election.

If Meijer could survive the GOP primary, he would likely be a formidable challenge to the Democratic nominee. His last name is one of the most recognizable in the state, and his reputation as a moderate Republican could be helpful in a state that has trended Democratic in recent years.

Republicans have won only one of the last 15 Senate races in Michigan, but Democrats’ lead has shrunk in every election since Democratic Sen. Carl Levin won re-election in 2008 by a 29% margin. Democratic Sen. Gary Peters won reelection in 2020 by less than 2% over Republican challenger John James, the closest race in more than two decades.

Aided in part by unrest in the Republican Party, The Democrats won decisively Victories in 2022, taking control of both chambers of the state legislature and retaining control of the governor’s office for the first time in decades. The party also won nearly every competitive U.S. House race in Michigan last year.

Defending the Michigan seat could be crucial for Democrats to retain the Senate, where the party has and is running a 51-49 majority strong headwind as they defend seats in Republican-leaning states from West Virginia to Montana and Ohio.

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